Starving for human rights
Greece can not "open its borders to thousands of migrants arriving from the Middle East, or offer legal status to all migrants living in Greece", Government officials said on Thursday.
Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis told Kathimerini that they had agreed that Europe "will not tolerate an uncontrollable influx of illegal immigrants crossing its external borders and staying on its territory".
The ministers from Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, France and Spain said in a joint statement that the EU's borders were already under pressure from a large influx of would-be migrants from Tunisia, where pro-reform protesters brought down the government last month. It is expected that there will be further pressure from citizens of other Arab states currently in turmoil.
The joint statement said that the impending influx could cause "serious consequences and potential risks to the EU's internal security".
The wave of migrants entering Greece through the Aegean islands could effect the tourism industry there and have a negative effect, said Papoutsis.
In Athens, 237 undocumented immigrants have entered the fourth week of a hunger strike. Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis has asked they call off their protest, saying that the government could not grant them the legal status they demand.
"We cannot do mass legalisations; it would be a major risk," Ragousis said. The minister said that boatloads of immigrants from Africa were expected to reach Greece soon. "If they go on hunger strike too, what do we do?" he said.
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